Twist on Tradition
Tired of eating the same old, boring, traditional food every day? Craving something that’s tongue tingling-ly new and exciting?
So we bring you, “Twist on Tradition”. A new series where you’ll find that exciting new dish with a “foreign/exotic flavour” in your regular traditional fare! Here you’ll find creative recipes that are mired deep in tradition (so you don’t have to wade out too far in search of culinary adventure), yet have a delicious new zing ( that which brings some faraway, foreign land’s exotic flavour within tasting distance). You’ll find the history of traditional recipes and how you can modernise it to please your palate. Basically, you experience a flood of flavour that allows you a taste of euphoria and nostalgia all at the same time. These recipes are a must try for the novice who wants to confidently impress or the accomplished cook looking to add to an already formidable repertoire. Let’s put on those thinking aprons and get creative, shall we?
Chicken Tikka with Blueberry Chutney
There is something so pleasant about fall colors, isn’t it? Here we have a perfect marriage of an ombre orangeish-red tikka that’s offset by a vibrant violet chutney! It has all the makings of a visual and flavorful treat.
History of Chicken Tikka
Now for the the History of Chicken Tikka, we all know that it’s a dish that’s very popular in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but apparently there are versions of the same in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Persian, Turkish and Arabic cuisines! Only difference being the Indian/Pakistani variants are much spicier than the other versions. No surprises there, we’re a people that’s pretty heavy handed with the bright red chilli! Traditionally, the dish is small pieces of chicken (“tikka” means bits or pieces) in a spicy yoghurt marinade baked using skewers in a clay oven called “tandoor”. It is essentially a boneless version of the infamous Tandoori Chicken. The Indian version of this dish is usually found under the Punjabi section of the menu, however in this version the tikkas are grilled over red-hot coals and isn’t necessarily boneless. The tikkas are then basted with ghee(clarified butter) at intervals to increase flavor. The dish is generally eaten with a lethally spicy green chutney (made of coriander, green chillies and mint) and a sticky-sweet tamarind chutney served with raw onion rings and a wedge of lemon. This is also used in the making of Chicken Tikka masala.
“Why if this dish is already perfect are we changing it? And why blueberry chutney ?”. Are these questions bothering you? Do you remember what we said in the beginning, “Twist on Tradition”? This is exactly why. Why serve two sauces, one sweet and another spicy when you can reinvent it to one sweet and spicy berry sauce is the answer. And blueberries simply because it adds the sourness like tamarind while being sweet as well and mostly because of their beautiful Indian-Indigo colour. Simple yet satisfying, old yet new, traditional yet modern and all our conditions are met.
Fun fact about blueberries:
Apparently they have a festival dedicated to the fruit hosted by a town called Hammontown in New Jersey which claims to be the”Blueberry capital of the World” which draws a large number of people to celebrate the fruit! Also a relative of the Blueberry plant is the oldest living thing on Earth, estimated by botanists to be more than 13,000 years old? :O Blueberries were used for medicinal purposes by the American Indians. In fact, they held the berry in very high esteem, owing to the fact that the blossom end of each Blueberry forms a five pointed star. The natives believed that the ”Great Spirit” sent these star berries to relieve the hunger of children during a famine. The natives around Lake Huron used dried, powdered/pulped berries with cornmeal and honey to Jesus a pudding called “Sautauthig”.
Before we move on to the recipe, since tandoors are not something an average kitchen in a home will have, we will bake our chicken tikka in the oven.
Serves 3 people
Prep time: 30 minutes + time for marination.
Cook time: 25 minutes.
Total time: 55 minutes + time for marination.
500 grams boneless and skinned Chicken breasts.Click here to order Fresh Chicken Breasts
For the marinade:
- 1 cup yoghurt (drain the whey or water completely)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon Ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Red chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder
- 1 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 tablespoons Tandoori masala
- A drop of red food colouring (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Freshly sliced onion rings
- Lemon wedges
- Wash and clean the chicken breasts. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Cube the chicken breasts into sufficiently large pieces. The chicken will shrink when it’s cooked. Rub a little bit of salt and pepper on them and set aside for 15 minutes.
- In a large glass bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and dump the chicken pieces into the bowl. Massage the pieces with the marinade and make sure all of the pieces are coated well. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 3-4 hours or even overnight in the refrigerator.
- When you’re ready to bake your tikkas, pre-heat your oven to 200o Celcius or 400o Fahrenheit. Line an aluminium sheet pan with aluminium foil and brush a bit of oil on the surface. (This makes your life a lot easier. Imagine having to scrub away all those utensils, one less mess is a lot less stress).
- Arrange your marinaded chicken on the tray, space them equally. Place the pan in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the pan and baste each of the pieces with ghee/oil. Flip the tikkas and baste again on the other side. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10-12 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if the chicken is cooked and tender. If not keep basting and flipping every 3-4 minutes till they’re done. Don’t freak out if they start blackening around the edges, this is called caramelization and will add more flavour. Just ensure you don’t overcook/burn the chicken. Rubbery is ok for water duckies not Chicken Tikkas!
- Once cooked, transfer hot tikkas to a plate. Serve hot with Blueberry Chutney (recipe follows) on the side along with fresh onion rings and lemon wedges.
Sweet and spicy Blueberry Chutney:
Makes about 2 and 1/2 cups of chutney
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you might want to be a bit light handed here, you don’t want an overpowering taste of chillies)
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 3/4 cup grated jaggery or dark brown sugar
- 4 cups of fresh blueberries (preferably the tart late spring variety) (about 2 pounds)
- Heat the oil on medium heat for about 1 minute (this should be done in a large saucepan to allow room for the chutney to cook).
- Add in the ginger and stir lightly for about 1 minute. Add in the salt, lemon juice, chili powder, cinnamon and the brown sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted and it becomes saucy. This takes about 5 minutes.
- Tip in the blueberries and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the liquid is a deep purple color and the berries have popped and released some of their juices. Keep cooking a while till they’re mushy.
- Remove from heat, fish out and discard the cinnamon sticks and allow to cool before you place into jars. Store in the refrigerator, it stays well for upto 2 – 3 months.
*For an artsy flourish, spoon a dollop of blueberry chutney onto a clean plate and using the back of the spoon drag the dollop onto the other end of the plate. Stack a few of your tikkas alternating with onion rings. Place the lemon wedge at the end and serve.*